Reading about the Crown Prince character in THE ILLUSIONIST, I discovered he was based on a real-life individual who became the basis for not one but two movie versions, both called MAYERLING. This revelation immediately brought back memories of this lushly filmed love story from 1968, a richly detailed costume drama starring Omar "Dr. Zhivago" Sharif and the beautiful but incredibly icy Catherine Deneuve. The story ends in horrible tragedy, which is also based on real events. Clearly, the filmmakers of this 1968 version of the tale were trying to recreate the huge success of David Lean's 1965 masterpiece "Dr. Zhivago." In this, they failed utterly. You may shed tears by the end, but you also will discover a film that lacks the heart of the film it attempted to emulate. It is easy to state that Deneuve was the wrong choice to play the love interest, and it is a no-brainer to see that director Terence Young, best known for early James Bond films, will never be mistaken for David Lean. It's like comparing Steven Spielberg to Stanley Kubrick. It can't be done.
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